Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Would my every prayer begin and end with just your name?

So, I'm going to warn you: there will be several pictures for this next post because I simply couldn't resist! I watched a movie recently that absolutely captivated me:

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day (2008)

I confess, I had my apprehensions about the film because contemporary movies have a tendency to be depressing. But it looked so cute that I kept it on my Netflix queue and when I saw it at the library, I happily checked it out. This movie is the best new movie I've seen in a long time (and that's saying a lot because I love movies). It's funny, romantic, and beautifully done.

The basic story follows an unusual day for Miss Pettigrew, a hard-on-her-luck governess who has recently lost her job and, in a desperate moment, shows up for a job for singer Delysia Lafosse. Come to find out, Miss Lafosse is not looking for a governess, but a social secretary and soon Miss Pettigrew is juggling Delysia's love life, her career, and forming a wonderful friendship with the quirky singer.

As I said, the movie is beautifully done. The costumes, hair, makeup, and sets are lovely and delightfully period. The cast is remarkable. Every one, from Amy Adams and Francis McDormand to Shirley Henderson, Claran Hinds, and Lee Pace is fantastic and plays their part wonderfully. I cannot rave about this movie enough. I highly recommend it. I cannot wait to buy the movie and the soundtrack (oh, did I forget to mention the great score?).

Friday, May 15, 2009

John, every day you act worse, but today, you're acting like tomorrow.

I have a few things to say before I jump into my review. First, I'm not sure that the above quote will have anything to do with my post. My mom and I finished our Fred & Ginger marathon tonight (finishing up with Roberta (1935)) and that's one of my favorite quotes from the film.

The second thing I have to say is: I'm sorry for not following through with my plan to review 2 movies a week. Here's what happened (I sound like Mr. Monk!) - I netflixed Bells Are Ringing (1960) (not to be confused with For Me and My Gal (1942)) but we've moved recently so the Netflix was redirected and it took a good week and half to finally get to me. By the time I got it, I'd already contacted Netflix and told them that the dvd got lost in the mail and they had sent me a replacement copy. So then I had 2 copies but by this time it was already yesterday and at least a week too late for me to follow through with my promise of 2 reviews a week. You see, Bells Are Ringing, was supposed to be my new film of the week. So, now that I'm quite overdue, I will finally review it because it is a movie worthy of reviewing.

Okay, so I checked out Bells Are Ringing because it stars Judy Holliday (who has quickly become one of my favorite actresses) and Dean Martin - what a pairing! The basic plot is as follows: Ella Peterson (Holliday) works at an answering service, taking and giving messages. However, she takes the service a bit further, involving herself in the lives of the clients by giving advice, playing matchmaker, playing mother, and, occasionally, even playing Santa Claus! Things really begin to shake up when she falls for a client (Martin) and when a snoopy inspector tries to prove that the answering service supplies men with additional services...

The movie is very cute and very fun. I very much enjoyed it and I highly recommend it. Judy Holliday doesn't disappoint - she's a pure joy and very entertaining. There are some really fun songs, some quirky jokes, and some cute dresses (for the fashion-lovers). Overall, I'd say the movie is very good (I gave it 4 stars on Netflix).

I must warn you, however, if you're looking into watching this movie. It was adapted from a Broadway play and it's very, very campy. The actors sing to the camera and the songs are very staged (for lack of a better word). This didn't really take away from the movie, but I feel I should give a proper heads-up.

Hopefully, campiness doesn't deter you from a good movie because I certainly recommend this one.

Monday, May 4, 2009

I don't think I'm unreasonable. I think I'm reasonable. You're the ones that are un.

So, last week I tried a new thing: I reviewed an old movie. I got a good response for it so I've decided to try it more often. In fact, I'm going to try to review an old movie every week - along with a new movie every week. That will make 2 blogs a week. How does that sound? So, for this week I'm going to review a movie that I've lately been really digging:

It Should Happen To You (1954)

First, for a brief synopsis: Gladys Glover (Judy Holliday) is down on her luck and desperate to make a name for herself. After some debating, she decides to put her name on a billboard. If the fame that comes with having her name on a billboard isn't enough, she soon has the attentions of romantic Jack Lemmon and playboy Peter Lawford.

This film is one of my favorite Judy Holliday movies. Actually, Judy Holliday played in surprisingly few movies, so I suppose that saying this one is one of my favorites isn't saying much. I've only seen a few of her films, myself: It Should Happen To You (1954), Born Yesterday (1950), Adam's Rib (1949), and The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956). Adam's Rib almost doesn't count, in my opinion, because it's mainly a Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy vehicle. In the other three, however, Holliday plays wonderful characters. The women she plays are always strong, independent yet romantic, loopy, intuitive, and quirky. She's very genuine in her acting and I'm always impressed by her.

I ran into this film when I was browsing Netflix and it definitely didn't disappoint! It's funny and wacky, romantic and sexy. It has a fun beginning and a happy ending. Like every movie, it has its faults: her boyfriend should be more supportive of her and the moral of the story shouldn't be that fame brings unhappiness whereas privacy is bliss. But, if you keep these faults in mind when you watch this movie, I think you'll enjoy it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Chance is the fool's name for fate, my lad...

When I first set out to write this blog, I had planned to write reviews just about every week on movies old and new - both in terms of when they were made and when I had seen them. However, with the exception of holiday films, I have pretty much been sticking to movies that I'd recently seen for the first time. As this was not my original intent, I'm now going to go back to it and review an old classic for me:
The Gay Divorcee (1934)

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers make up one of my all-time favorite Hollywood couples. For years, my favorite Fred and Ginger film was The Gay Divorcee. "Night and Day" remains one of my favorite Fred and Ginger dances, although I can now see the silliness within the movie.

The basic plot is as follows: (although it's hard to be basic because, in my opinion, the plot is relatively convoluted) Guy Holden (Astaire) is a famous dancer (naturally) who falls for Mimi Glossop (Rogers). Unfortunately, Mimi is already married, but she is working on getting a divorce with the help of Guy's friend, lawyer Eggbert Fitzgerald (Edward Everett-Horton). With a small mix-up in quotes and codewords, Mimi believes that Guy is the correspondent hired to help her get a divorce - and she isn't too happy about it! See what I mean? Convoluted! And I'm leaving out a lot.

The film was the first to cast Fred and Ginger in starring roles together, which has its pros and its cons. On the one hand, they are still new as dancing partners and have (in my opinion) a nice raw quality to their dancing that is a little different from their later polished style. In "Night and Day," in particular, she seems very loose and he seems very stiff - almost cariacatures of the expression that "He gives her class. She gives him sex." I think in later films they toned down their styles to blend together more, but the contrasting styles really add to the number.

On the other hand, RKO did not seem too confident in their new stars and boosted them with several comedic sidecharacters. While the characters are funny, they're also very silly and sometimes steal focus.

The music is fun, if a bit cooky (look for a very young Betty Grable). "The Continental" won an Oscar for Best Song. And, as I said before, "Night and Day" is one of my favorite songs by them.

So if you're looking for something fun and light and a little bit wacky, then check out The Gay Divorcee. It won't disappoint and it's a very important part of the Fred and Ginger canon.